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Collier County hotels losing big business

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avatarUdut, Kenneth -- on Jan. 29 2009, from Golden Gate Estates, Naples, FL
Founder of this Naples site of NeighborHelp Referrals.

Local hotels losing big business WBBH-TV updated 7:12 a.m. ET, Tues., Jan. 27, 2009 COLLIER COUNTY: Beautiful beaches and warm weather are not enough to overcome cash-strapped corporate America. Business getaways to Southwest Florida hotels are being cancelled left and right.

"There’s been a significant downturn in that business, absolutely," Marco Island Marriott General Manager Rick Medwedeff said.

"I’m not seeing those people from up north as much as we have in the past," added Lemon Tree Inn General Manager Rob deCastro.

In just the last few months alone, the Marco Marriott has had three major corporate outings cancelled.

"Part of it is just the economic issues, part is a perception issue of a resort activity," Medwedeff said.

Instead of battling for business meetings, vacationers are now the target. Collier County’s Tourist Development Council voted Monday to move $200,000 in tax dollars normally spent in summer marketing to an immediate new campaign.

It’s aimed at would-be travelers from the Northeast and Midwest.

"The meetings market is going to be down and probably won’t recover for the foreseeable future," Collier County Tourism Director Jack Wert said.

Some TDC members even want to spend up to $500,000 in emergency funds, normally only used after hurricanes.

Others aren’t sold on that idea.

"Let’s say there was a hurricane or something come through. We wouldn’t have the funds for marketing during that period," deCastro said.

Over the next month, tourism leaders expect to decide how much to use.

Medwedeff says now is the time to spend whatever it takes to bring visitors back.

"We need to seize the moment," he said.

He hopes it would fill rooms the economy leaves empty.

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Collier County hotels losing big business